Kicking it in the club
A Mahalaxmi venue is combining MMA fights, EDM and some trippy drinks over the weekend
Thousands surround a cage in which two people are fighting it out, as techno music blares in the background. This could be your evening's entertainment this weekend if you RSVP in time for the launch of Underground Fight Nights. Spread over 10,000 sq ft, the venue will have a 30-foot cage in the centre, in which five sets of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) professionals will vie for top honours.
The brainchild of Navi Mumbai resident Prachi Parekh, who quit her corporate job to start this venture, these monthly fights aim to offer a high-adrenaline experience. "Someone with a corporate job wouldn't only want to head to Kamala Mills for a night out. This event combines clubbing and watching a fight," says 27-year-old Parekh.
Supported by the MMA Federation, there will be three five-minute rounds for professionals, reduced to three minutes for amateurs. Officials from MMA Federation and World MMA Association will monitor the fights. Shihan Sharif Bapu, general secretary, MMA Federation, who has also trained the Indian Navy in the combat sport, says that this isn't a championship. "We didn't want people cheering fighters and the winners walking away only with medals," he says, adding that the person victorious in the professional fights will receive $1,000.
Prachi Parekh and Shihan Sharif Bapu
The participants include fighters from Pune, Bengaluru, Madhya Pradesh, Thane and Mumbai. There is also a match between a fighter from Iran and one from Brazil on the bill. The women's fight, presided by the country's only female referee, Radhika Jhaveri, will see 22-year-old Mumbai girl Jyoti face Ratna Diptee, a 34-year-old architect who has chosen to follow her passion.
There will be two fully equipped ambulances and doctors waiting at the venue for safety precautions, while two emergency rooms at the nearby Hinduja Hospital will be kept reserved. "You need certain medical formalities, like tests for hepatitis and HIV, as the fights get bloody, which could pose a risk to participants. Even referees need to take hepatitis injections," Bapu informs.
The adrenaline rush will be heightened by DJ Ankytrixx and DJ StoKed, along with drummer Tarang, and audience members can purchase alcohol and food at a temporary bar near the cage. The organisers, however, are categorical about the fact that no bets can be placed. The MMA series also hopes to serve as inspiration for the audience, Parekh says. "It's like what happens at the end of the movie series, Rocky. You think, 'I will start fighting my problems.' We want people to get up and battle their everyday demons," she concludes.
On March 16, 8 pm
At Famous Studios, 23, Gandhi Nagar, Upper Worli, Mahalakshmi.
Log on to bookmyshow.com
Watch out for these fighters
The origin of MMA
Modern-day MMA derives its roots from Brazilian jiu-jitsu and vale tudo — where fighters from various styles fight with few rules restricting them — and merikan fights in Japan. The full-contact combat sport allows for striking and grappling, and is a mixture of styles stemming from a competition to figure out the best form of martial arts one can use in real, unarmed combat. Competitors from different fighting styles were pitted against one another, and even the few regulations came out primarily as a means to protect the safety of the fighters. In India, MMA has gained popularity in the last fewyears, especially among women as a means of self-defence.
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